The General Dental Council’s (GDC) objectives, set in law by Parliament, are to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, to maintain public confidence in the dental professions and to set professional standards.
The way through which the GDC fulfils its statutory duty, outlined above, is partly set out in its corporate strategy. It has very recently concluded a consultation on its corporate strategy for the next two years. The outcome report following the consultation has now been published by the GDC setting out it will regulate the dental industry in the interest of complying with its statutory obligations.
The draft strategy set out five strategic aims, which were developed to describe the GDC’s priorities within its statutory remit:
- operate a regulatory system which protects patients and is fair to registrants, while being cost-effective and proportionate; which begins with education, supports career-long learning, promotes high standards of care and professional conduct and is developed in the light of emerging evidence and experience
- work with the professions and our partners to ensure that patients and the public are able to raise concerns with the agency best placed to resolve them effectively and without unnecessary delay
- use evidence, research and evaluation to develop, deliver and embed a cost-effective and right-touch model for enforcement action
- maintain and develop the regulatory framework
- continue to develop an outcome-focused, high-performing and sustainable
Fitness to practise
Priority 3 mainly deals with the GDC’s fitness to practise procedures and processes.
The GDC has renewed its call for legislative reform to make the fitness to practise process more effective. The consultation document, for example, stated: “We have been very clear about the shortcomings of the fitness to practise process, many of which are imposed by the outdated legislation under which we currently operate.”
However, within the remit of the GDC’s statutory scope and discretion, it has proposed a number of things it will do that will affect their fitness to practise procedures:
- Making use of the enhanced technology, process and management information capacity delivered through the End-to-End review, we will further improve timeliness within fitness to practice.
- We will evaluate options and consult on proposals for separating the adjudication function from the investigation and prosecution functions.
- We will manage risk in relation to public safety and confidence by operating an efficient and responsive regulatory enforcement (fitness to practise) process.
- We will develop and deploy a clear set of principles for enforcement action, to enhance understanding among the public, professionals, stakeholders and our staff of how and in what circumstances we will use our powers.
- We will focus our investigation capacity on those cases which raise serious issues that warrant regulatory intervention, basing our decision making on the growing evidence base, particularly in relation to public confidence.
- We will explore how, and to what extent, we can deploy a broader range of resolutions for matters that are referred to us. This might include:
- Opportunities for alternative dispute resolution.
- Developing alternative assessment approaches based on determining criteria.
- Considering the introduction of a presumed time bar in certain cases.
- Exploring options for early remediation and accepted regulatory outcomes.
Kings View Chambers
Specialist healthcare and medical regulation defence barristers dealing with all fitness to practise matters before:
- General Medical Council
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- General Dental Council
- Nursing & Midwifery Council
- Health and Care Professions Council
- Social Work England
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